Trails have reminded me to let each step fully absorb my attention, to look where I’m walking. Every step. When I’m hiking, it’s the small steps I’m not paying attention to that could turn the ankle, not the more dangerous negotiations. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu counsels that a warrior needs to treat big events like small ones, but to revere small duties like big ones. Each step along the path needs be tended to. When I dance, I concentrate on each step. Each movement is intentional, and yet the shape of the overall dance is none of my business. I’ve sprained my ankle many times playing basketball and finally I had to take a vow of celibacy from the sport. (Sorry NBA). I’ve never once turned my ankle dancing, where my mind is absorbed in each step. Climbing over rocks is like dancing. If I dance over the rocks, I’m okay.
Unless I’m fully invested in the present moment, I won’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I was hiking through Canyon de Chelley, thinking about what I should do and where I should go tomorrow. But unless I pay attention to the section of the path I’m on now, how will I be able to follow it to the segment it’s supposed to lead me to tomorrow? I won’t know where I am to go, or how to get there, unless I pay attention to what’s going on right now.
© 2015 by Michael C. Just